Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
The Biosphere
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Exam 1.5 Hours   MCQ and essay  50%
Semester Assessment Essay (1,000 words)  50%
Supplementary Exam 1.5 Hours   Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  50%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module.  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1) have an appreciation of the major environmental processes on earth that have influenced past and present flora and fauna

2) demonstrate their understanding of the importance of the lithosphere

3) have knowledge of the evolution of multicellular life.

4) evaluate the importance of the cryosphere for organisms past and present, and the implications of future climate change.

Brief description

The aim of this module is, through a series of integrated lectures, to introduce biology students to the biotic and abiotic interactions that have occurred on earth over temporal and spatial timescales, and the consequences of these dynamic interactions on the present day flora and fauna.


The module begins by examining the conditions on earth prior to the existence of life, and the role of the sun, atmosphere and oceans in generating the necessary conditions for the evolution of both unicellular and multicellular organisms. The lithosphere is examined from a biological perspective providing detail of the major minerals, rocks, and subsequently soils, together with the physical processes that have shaped the continents and oceans over the earth'r history. The evolution of the main invertebrate and vertebrate phyla will be considered including significant mass extinction events. The cryosphere will be discussed in detail firstly through introducing its significance to the formation of current habitats and secondly to its role in global biogeochemical cycles. The lectures will then provide detail of previous glaciation events and their impact on evolutionary and ecological processes, together with future implications of global climate change.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Listening and oral skills during the lectures and subsequent discussions will be encouraged. The students will be expected to produce coherent written documentation for their examinations and coursework.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The coursework will provide an opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences, and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance through self-awareness and reflection.
Information Technology The students will be required to access online databases such as ISI Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar to find primary literature. They will also be expected to be competent in the use of word processing programs and spreadsheets for delivery of assessed work.
Personal Development and Career planning
Problem solving Students will be encouraged to critically analyse information provided during the lectures and orally identify appropriate solutions where problems arise. Feedback will be given where appropriate.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the lecture material during their independent study using a variety of literature sources. They will be expected to produce academically appropriate reports, and where necessary comment, evaluate and scrutinize the information obtained/experiment conducted.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific concepts/techniques relating to the module will be developed
Team work


This module is at CQFW Level 4